American in the Third World
Mary Anastasia O’Grady poses something like this question in Monday’s Wall Street Journal. Imagine the country in which you live is holding a presidential election and the incumbent is running for another term. Imagine that the economy is in bad shape. The ranks of the unemployed and poor have swelled; the government is spending way beyond its means; the central bank prints money on demand. The president takes no responsibility. He blames everything on the rich. He says they are exploiting the working classes and don’t pay their fair share in taxes. He tells successful small businessmen and entrepreneurs that they didn’t do it, someone else (read: government) did it for them.
No, the country is not, as you probably thought, the United States — it’s Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela. But, admit it, it does sound more than a little like us. It does sound like we are becoming a bit closer to joining the Third World.
Our essential problem is spending. Our president is continuing the Ponzi scheme of debt that accrues to future generations that started in the 1930s. It was accelerated by Lyndon Johnson in 1965, endorsed by Richard Nixon in 1969, again by George W. Bush in 2002 and kicked into high gear by Mr. Obama in 2009.
Oh yes, Mr. Obama has kicked our welfare state into high gear. He has run up more debt in three years than George W. did in eight. And, in the future it’s peddle-to-the-metal spending. Our debt was $10 trillion in 2008, $15.5 trillion now with projections to $20 in five years and the sky is no limit beyond that. Democrats should stop the lame incantation that George Bush also was a big spender. Many who voted for Obama hoped he might not be George Bush writ large. After all, he did promise to halve the deficit in his first term.
There are no plans to change, at least among the Democrats. Budget plan? Harry Reid says, “We don’t need no stinkin’ budget plan.” Just keep spending. How about some new entitlements? Maybe the Catholic Church can be bullied into free contraception for the masses, except it will only be free to 30-year-old law students who have found a sure-fire way to unwind after spending a hard day in the library.
Ted and Tillie Tax Payer will be on the hook for that entitlement just as they are going to be for the all the new entitlements that Kathleen Sebelius can think up as she tries, in her words, to “strike the appropriate balance” between new entitlements and our basic freedoms. Some balance. In Sebelius’ questionable world, the First Amendment has to give way to the new contraceptive imperative. One waits breathlessly as she balances the zillion or so other goodies provided in the 2,700-page Obamacare monstrosity.
Despite this rather dismal record of spending, debt, unemployment and raising poverty rates, Mr. Obama remains tied with Mitt Romney despite general acknowledgement that the economy is not just the main issue, but the only issue. But, the real problem is that people don’t really trust either candidate to get the economy back on track. Polls have, in Scott Rasmussen’s words, revealed that, “A politician promising to fix the economy has about as much credibility as a plumber promising to fix your electrical problems.” “Most voters,” again according to Rasmussen, “recognize the importance of government in providing a healthy business environment, but they believe it’s the private sector that creates economic growth. They’re hoping to find a president who understands that, as well.”
Good luck with that.
Republican Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin put forth a budget that promises to balance the budget of the United States in the year 2040. Ryan’s budget does not reduce spending; it just ratchets back the increase. A balanced budget depends, of course, on a rapidly improving economy with the attendant revenue increase, and it depends on any number of ensuing Congresses to continue to moderate their spending addiction.
All that is pretty tame stuff but Nancy Pelosi hailed it as an attack on seniors, university students, working mothers, children with disabilities, the unemployed, numerous minorities and the other category of groups now included in our ever-expanding entitlement culture. The Secretary of the Treasury told the House of Representatives, “We’re not coming before you to say we have a definitive solution, what we do know is we don’t like yours.” That’s the Obama administration and his campaign in a nutshell: We don’t have a solution but we don’t like yours.
Paul Ryan thinks, “We are headed for the most predictable economic crisis in history.” He’s right. Greece owes 975 percent of GDP; France owes 549 percent GDP; America is the champ — we owe 910 percent GDP and it is only getting worse. The Obama administration issues a hundred billion dollars of treasury bonds every month. Our yearly debt now equals the GDP of Canada or India. College debt is now more than a trillion dollars. California and Illinois are nearly insolvent; three cities in California are now in bankruptcy reorganization. Detroit is holding on by the thin thread of state aid.
Still, Democrats ignore the problem, while the best the Republicans come up with is a plan to balance the budget over the next 28 years. Mark Steyn cited the famous exchange in Hemingway’s, “A Place in the Sun.” “Someone asks Mike Campbell, ‘How did you go bankrupt?’ ‘Two ways,’ he replies, ‘Gradually, then suddenly.’”
Many will argue that despite all this there is no chance our great country will ever resemble a Third World country. Truth is, Chicago, one of our great cities, already has more than a passing likeness. Columnist Wayne Allyn Root paints a depressing picture: “Chicago’s economy is collapsing. Taxes are soaring. Criminals roam the streets freely. Violence is out of control. Public schools are failing. Black children are helpless, hopeless and inundated by drugs and gangs, while waiting for change that has never come.”
Chicago has nothing on Uganda, not even the endemic corruption. Is that Third-World enough for you?